Talk about an unfair fight. Dish Network — which has gone toe-to-toe with some of the biggest companies in media — now is swatting around Hoak Media, a little-known Dallas-based broadcaster with 14 TV stations concentrated in rural markets in the mid-west and south. Dish has taken the PR offensive. It says that Hoak yanked its signals from the No. 2 satellite company, and “has taken an incredibly hostile stance toward their viewers.” Hoak allegedly demanded a 200% rate increase, and told Dish to stop customers with its Hopper DVR from using the new AutoHop feature that can jump past ads in recorded shows. “Our customers pay a lot of money to Hoak as part of their monthly bills,” says Dish SVP for programming Dave Shull. “We believe customers have the right to watch purchased TV content in any manner they prefer. Why Hoak executives feel they can stop viewers from something they’ve been doing for years is a mystery.” The satellite company is engaged in a separate collection of court battles with major broadcast networks over the legality of the AutoHop. It’s also engaged in multiple disputes with AMC Networks, which Dish says it plans to drop at the end of this month. A person who answered the phone for Hoak CEO Eric Van den Branden said it will take time for the company to respond. In other words, Round One in this PR war goes to Dish.
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